As much as the mobile app development landscape changed during 2016, the trajectory of the Internet of Things (I0T), the continuing battle between iOS and Android for dominance and the challenge to address mobile app security ensure that 2017 will be equally as dynamic.
Having shared one view of what the future holds for mobile in general, we found this nice overview of some of the key mobile development trends and drivers in post by European development shop R-Stylelab.
Top 5 trends in mobile app development
IoT-related apps dominate.
By the end of this year, there will be 6.4 billion connected gadgets worldwide. The Internet of Things is shaping mobile app future trends since almost every IoT solution needs a dedicated application enabling users to manage smart devices. Although building IoT-related software is not that different from what developers have been doing for years, most Internet of Things solutions are innovative by default and often require integration with third-party or niche devices and services. Also, IoT mobile apps do not necessarily run on a smartphone.
Besides having the ability to come up with nontrivial solutions, the modern developer should focus on security. According to Gartner, in 2017 75% of mobile app security breaches will be caused by misconfigurations. When it comes to building Internet of Things solutions, mobile app security is essential.
Messengers continue to evolve.
The evolutions of “messengers” was one of the biggest factors driving 2016 mobile development and in 2017, messengers and AI chatbots will become a trend of their own. Businesses seek new ways to reach out to their target audience. Although users spend over 85% of their mobile time in apps, only 5 applications – including messengers and social media – see heavy use. While high-quality mobile apps still help companies increase brand visibility, it’s getting easier to interact with customers through WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat. This year Facebook and Kik launched Chatbot platforms enabling companies to build light-weight conversation programs that use the artificial intelligence technology to answer simple questions and deliver relevant content to customers. By doing so, they’ve set one of the most revolutionary trends in mobile business app development. Several top players including General Electric, Pizza Hut, Uber and Sephora have already built bots to interact with customers in a convenient way – and more companies will jump on the chatbot bandwagon in the near future. With Facebook adding person-to-person payments to its Messenger (similar functionality has already been leveraged by WeChat), messaging apps will revolutionize e-commerce and create new challenges for software vendors (such as seamless integration of brand chatbots into messenger environment and protection of customer data);
Enterprise mobile apps go micro & hybrid.
Millennials have officially become the largest generation in the US workforce. They value flexibility, use 3-4 devices in the workplace and believe the existing enterprise software (CRMs, ERPs and other solutions that are supposed to boost productivity) slows down employee performance. As more companies take enterprise solutions to smartphones, tablets and even wearables, the demand for mobile developers will outstrip the available capacity by 500%. What to do? Using no-code and low-code dev tools (aka Citizen Developer Initiative) will become one of the hottest trends in mobile app development. However, one cannot expect an employee with no software engineering experience to create a high-performance mobile application. Instead, they focus on one task (like emailing Excel files) and develop micro apps – small UI-centered programs that enable workers to access a certain function of an enterprise solution on a smartphone. But there’s a catch. Although micro apps are convenient and inexpensive, they require seamless integration with parent enterprise solutions (which is a huge problem for amateur developers).
Android-first is finally happening.
Back in March we listed several reasons why iOS-first was still among mobile app development future trends, citing Android fragmentation and the 90% revenue gap between the App Store and Google Play as the main arguments for testing the waters with an iOS application. In 2017, Android may finally take over as the platform is now prioritized by 47% of professional developers. Here’s why. First, there’s a growing tendency to build mobile applications for driving brand awareness and customer loyalty (compared to direct monetization which is still a thing on the App Store). Second, it’s the new emerging markets (including China, India and Latin American countries) dominated by Android which recently saw a 18.4% growth in smartphone sales (compared to just 8.2% for mature markets). Finally, it’s the evolution of the Android ecosystem. With improved developer guidelines, security updates and Nougat up its sleeve, Google Play is on track to outpace the App Store both in terms of downloads and revenue;
UX will marry accessibility.
Over 18 million US citizens were born with some type of disability or acquire one later in life. 54% of these people use a smartphone. It’s a huge and largely underdeveloped market, since few vendors build software with accessibility in mind. Thanks to IoT, the situation will change for the better. Home automation systems, medical alarms and communication solutions create new opportunities for the disabled and reduce barriers to living independently. If you have plans to develop a mobile app in 2017 – either for an IoT gadget or a standalone one – make sure to create several mixed-ability use scenarios during the MVP/Proof of Concept stage, design simple user interfaces that do not require complex gestures and introduce multiple switch options.